Saturday, 28 January 2017

Let's Brew - 1847 William Younger T

Yet another Scottish recipe. But one there’s a very good reason for. Albeit purely selfish.

I’m steaming through my new Scottish book. Not totally voluntarily. The thing has to be finished – at least a reasonable first draught – by the middle of March. Which isn’t that far away. If I can keep up with this week’s pace (10,000 words and counting so far) that shouldn’t be a problem.

I already have most of the information I need. But there is the odd gap. One pretty glaring one was the lack of any recipes from the 1840’s. I’m starting to put that right today.

The beer is a particular Scottish speciality, Table Beer. Down in London, there wasn’t a huge amount of Table Beer brewed after 1830. Probably because it had disappeared as a tax category. Despite it being specifically against the law, I suspect much Table Beer was brewed to be mixed with Strong Beer. The latter was taxed at 10 shillings per barrel, four times the rate of Table Beer. By blending Strong and Table you could get yourself two barrels of full-strength stuff for 12s 6d tax rather than 20s.

In Scotland, in contrast, Table Beer was a serious product. As can be seen by the fact that not only was it exported to England, it also went overseas. A Dutch newspaper advertisement from 1881* includes not only the Strong Scotch Ales, IPAs and Stouts that you would expect, but also Table Beer. It sold for 12.50 guilders a kilderkins, the same as the weakest Porter in the list.

Now there’s one wee problem in recreating this beer. It wasn’t brewed from barley malt, but from bigg, a primitive type of barley that could grow in harsher conditions. This around the end of the time bigg was still used in commercial brewing. In William Younger’s 1847 records it turns up occasionally, mostly in weaker beers such as 60/-, 80/- and, as here, Table Beer. I’ve substituted mild malt.

Goldings should be right for the hips. The log lists them as East Kent and Farnham. So definitely types of whitebine. Even knocking down the hopping rate a little to take into account the age of the hops, it still comes out with a very respectable calculated 35 IBU.

All in all, it’s a nice, light drinking beer. Probably, as the name implies, perfect for accompanying your supper.

* "Het Nieuws van den Dag", 23rd May 1881.

1847 William Younger T
mild malt 7.50 lb 100.00%
Goldings 90 min 1.25 oz
Goldings 30 min 1.25 oz
OG 1033
FG 1010
ABV 3.04
Apparent attenuation 69.70%
IBU 35
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 184º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 58º F
Yeast WLP028 Edinburgh Ale


James said...

By startling coincidence, a commenter on your previous post ("When did Scottish Pale Ale stop being bitter?" included a link to a site that describes bigg:

Based on that description, I wonder if 6-row malt would be a closer approximation than mild malt. Maybe not - I could be focusing too much on the physical form of the barley, and not enough on its brewing properties.

Anonymous said...

If I'm reading your older posts on table beer correctly, it's not so much a particular type of beer and more in the modern sense of a session beer, and you could have a range of color and bitterness to one, as long as the gravity was fairly modest.

Is that right, or did I miss something?

Ron Pattinson said...


Table Beer was a general term. Barclay Perkins' version was a Porter. Though it did seem to mean something specific in Edinburgh.

Bitter Donald said...

I've got some bygg/bere growing here in Michigan. Not enough to malt some to make beer yet, though.

Ron Pattinson said...

Bitter Donald,

interesting. How does it get on in the Michigan climate?

Bitter Donald said...

Down here in the south east, I'd probably be better off moving it to a cooler section of yard than I've grown it the past two years, and playing a bit with when in the season to plant, maybe even so far as starting it under the hoops in early march i only started with 50 seeds.

My brother in law has a small farm up near Mackinac, and I think it'd do well there.